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Hiking/biking tour groups/Europe and beyond?
Old 11-07-2009, 08:50 PM   #1
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Hiking/biking tour groups/Europe and beyond?

I have a handful of travel catalogs from various tour companies offering their international services as hiking and biking hosts. Companies like REI, Sobek, and Vermont Bike Tours.

I'm single, don't drink, and prefer comfortable accomodations over luxury. The tours seem like they favor couples and some favor traveling from pub to pub, or to wineries and brag about some 5 star accomodations.

I've never traveled overseas and actually would like to do this on my own, but have thought to go with a tour group a time or two first.

Any of you have experience with these types of tours. Companies you like or dislike, and any thoughts about my how they would fit a single non-drinker?

I'm fairly fit, but not into anything too radical like technical climbing or hundred mile a day bike rides. And on a moderate budget.

Thank you.
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Old 11-07-2009, 09:21 PM   #2
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We went on a hiking trip to the Italian Lakes in 2007 with Country Walkers Country Walkers > Home and enjoyed it immensely. Our group consisted of 9 tourists (all American) and two guides. The members of the group were a mother and grown daughter; a mother and two grown daughters; two single women; and the young wife and me. The accommodations were very nice and comfortable, but not what I would call 5 star. The food was excellent (we ate as a group most nights) and, while wine was available, drinking was certainly not expected. The guides were very knowledgeable and spoke English better than I do. Most of the trips from this company are graded by difficulty. Ours was rated "moderate" and did not prove too difficult for two fit 70 year old women in the group.
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Old 11-08-2009, 07:14 AM   #3
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DW and I have taken three trips with VBT and will go on more. VBT has a mix of singles and couples, with most (probably 2/3 on our trips) being couples. Most people on the tours I took were in there 50s and 60s. VBT stays in very nice places that most of us would never find on our own and bike through beautiful areas we also would never find on our own.

The prices appear a little steep but they include airfare. Also, VBT is far less expensive than Butterfield and Robinson and Backroads, their primary high-end competitors. On our recent trip to Puglia in Italy we learned that Butterfield stays at two of the Masserias (farm hotels) we stayed at. Butterfield covers more dinners (all?) in the package and provides wine but I will skip that benefit to save substantial dollars.

The riding on our tours was pretty easy. On our first, DW and I prepared with a couple of ten mile rides (now we ride about 100 miles a week). But with any of these groups you don't need to worry about your capabilities. If you hit a hill that is too much for you, hop in the van If you want to see pictures of the kinds of places VBT stays in, and lots of shots of the people we were with and places we rode check out my family photo album. Check out Tuscany by the Sea first -- that was my favorite tour.
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Old 11-08-2009, 02:06 PM   #4
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It was a long time ago....I did a bike tour of South West France (Perigord & Quercy) in 1992 with a Canadian firm called Randonee Tours. I had a wonderful time! I was travelling solo but I paired up with another person doing the same and we subsequently developed a friendship. The tours were extremely well planned and there were contingency plans for everything. Yet I enjoyed the independence of the open road and the camaraderie and the location were wonderful. I would say do your research and go for it. But go to the gym first!
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Old 11-08-2009, 05:55 PM   #5
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I, too, will be interested in any suggestions that members have on this subject. In my case, I am not averse to wineries. I would be interested in a mix of people, just not all couples.
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Old 11-08-2009, 06:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roger r View Post
I've never traveled overseas and actually would like to do this on my own, but have thought to go with a tour group a time or two first.

Any of you have experience with these types of tours. Companies you like or dislike, and any thoughts about my how they would fit a single non-drinker?

I'm fairly fit, but not into anything too radical like technical climbing or hundred mile a day bike rides. And on a moderate budget.

Thank you.

A number of years ago, I went on a bike tour of Greece with Classic Adventures Classic Adventures - Bicycling Vacations Since 1979: bicycle tours, bike tours, biking tours, bike trips, cycling tours: Vermont, New York, Vermont, Quebec, France, Natchez Trace, Mississippi, Austria, Germany, Island of Crete and Greece

I was very pleased with the trip. It was extremely well-organized. The tour guides we had at the historic sites (a local requirement) were awesome. The accommodations were comfortable, but not fancy. We typically all dined together in the evenings at some great local establishment. Some shared a bottle of wine at dinner, others did not. Drinking, per se, was not a major focus of anyone on this trip.

My group numbered about 14 -- about 70% were single (including myself). We typically biked about 30-50 miles a day.

Later in the trip, I was comfortable and in-shape enough that I'd go out bicycling for another 15-20 miles in the local area in the late afternoon with a subgroup (after arriving at the hotel after a day's worth of biking).

We'd all meet for breakfast at the hotel and be given our maps and routes for the day with any specific instructions. Then everyone took off. I usually rode by myself (a 45-year old female), as most everyone either was a couple or came with a same-sex friend that they rode with. I never felt uncomfortable by myself. If I stopped along the way or lingered at lunch, I usually had some others in the group catch up with me.

My assigned room-mate was a lovely lady who was about 25 years older than me and rode near the end of the pack. Whereas, I was usually one of the first out of the gate in the morning, as I had some mortal fear of falling behind.

I've had several other friends take bicycling tours with Classic Adventures (in Canada and Crete) and they were very pleased also.

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Old 11-08-2009, 06:55 PM   #7
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A number of years ago, I went on a bike tour of Greece with Classic Adventure...
I've had several other friends take bicycling tours with Classic Adventures (in Canada and Crete) and they were very pleased also.

omni
Good recommendation. The length of the rides is a good match for DW and me. We may look into this outfit.
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Old 11-09-2009, 07:56 PM   #8
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I, too, will be interested in any suggestions that members have on this subject. In my case, I am not averse to wineries. I would be interested in a mix of people, just not all couples.
We did visit a couple of wineries, but you have to be careful about imbibing if you are getting back on a bike!
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Old 11-10-2009, 05:27 AM   #9
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We did visit a couple of wineries, but you have to be careful about imbibing if you are getting back on a bike!
Advice well taken! Actually, I don't think I could bike any distance at all if I had even one glass of wine and got back on a bike. Now that I am in my mid-fifties and accustomed to only fairly light gym workouts, my Oomph would be gone. I also would have to train for any bike trip as this past summer I biked only twice on a rail trail for a total distance of about 15 miles each time.
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